14 May 2018 Mitigating pointing requirements and turbulence effects in free-space quantum key distribution
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Abstract
With the development of quantum computers, that can break current classical encryption schemes, unconditionally secure quantum key distribution (QKD) will become very important. Current fiber-based QKD implementations are limited to a few hundred kilometers due to optical losses in fiber and cannot be used with mobile platforms. A free space QKD system has recently been demonstrated over very large distances using entangled photons. However, due to the extremely high pointing accuracy required, the implementation of this QKD approach is very challenging and power demanding. Here we describe a new type of QKD link that uses modulating retro-reflectors. Our approach reduces pointing requirements by orders of magnitude, allowing an increase in pointing tolerance from microradians to tens of milliradians. Additionally, it reduces power requirements on the moving platform and has potential of reducing some influence of turbulence on the secure key distribution rate. Our approach relies on new, high extinction surface-normal multiple quantum well modulators with a maximum modulation rate of 100 MHz. We report on a BB84 QKD link using our system in the laboratory.
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Mark Bashkansky, William S. Rabinovich, Rita Mahon, Mike S. Ferraro, Peter G. Goetz, J. Reintjes, "Mitigating pointing requirements and turbulence effects in free-space quantum key distribution", Proc. SPIE 10660, Quantum Information Science, Sensing, and Computation X, 1066008 (14 May 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2304456; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2304456
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